Punter from Central Valley High School and Jordan Talley are among the 18 players who are current candidates for the new award given to the Freshman of the Year in FCS
Eastern freshman redshirt punter Jake Miller is one of 18 players on the revised Watch List for the inaugural Jerry Rice Award Watch List, The Sports Network announced on Tuesday (Oct. 18). He joins EWU true freshman running back Jordan Talley on the list of candidates.
The Rice Award, presented by The Sports Network and sponsored by Fathead.com, will honor the outstanding freshman in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision. A national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will select the award winner after the regular season. The legendary Rice, who played in the FCS at Mississippi Valley State, will present the award at the national awards banquet on Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas.
Miller is an impressive 12th in FCS in punting (43.07 per punt), helping Eastern rank sixth nationally in net punting (39.04) through seven games. A transfer from Washington State who graduated in 2010 from Central Valley High School in Spokane, Wash., Miller is the only freshman ranked in the top 23 nationally. Five of his punts have been at least 50 yards, with a long of 59. Seven of his 27 punts have been downed inside the opponent 20-yard line.
After a pair of early-season 100-yard rushing games, Talley was one of 15 players on the initial Watch List announced on Sept 28. Talley is a 5-foot-10, 180-pound running back from Jesuit High School in Portland, Ore.
He recorded back-to-back 100-yard rushing games, starting with 114 yards on 19 carries in a 17-14 loss to Montana on Sept. 17. In the first start of his career on Sept. 24 versus Montana State, he gained 108 yards on 19 carries with two touchdowns. In seven games thus far, Talley has 94 carries for 350 yards and two touchdowns, and 18 catches for 103 yards.
Fellow true freshman Quincy Forte has also been impressive for the Eagles. In seven games he has rushed 26 times for 125 yards and a touchdown, and has caught eight passes for 136 yards. Forte had a season-high 170 all-purpose yards in EWU’s 48-27 romp over Northern Colorado on Oct. 15, rushing for 50 yards on nine carries, catching three passes for 69 yards and returning three kickoffs for 51 yards.
Currently, Eastern quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell is on the Watch List for the Walter Payton Award, given to the top player in FCS. Safety Matt Johnson is on the list for the Buck Buchanan Award, presented to the top defensive player in FCS. A year ago, linebacker J.C. Sherritt won the Buchanan Award, which was also won by defensive end Greg Peach in 2008. Quarterback Erik Meyer won the Payton in 2005.